A spokesperson for the Farmington, Conn., chief medical examiner's office told the site that Fortunato died at Hartford Hospital as a result of a pulmonary embolism due to deep vein thrombosis, with other contributing factors including obesity and cardiomyopathy.
"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Michael Fortunato," an MTV spokesperson said in a statement. "Our condolences, thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time."
A pulmonary embolism is a blockage of one of the main arteries of the lung, typically caused by a blood clot in the legs or pelvis. Fortunato's sister, Gena, told MTV News that her brother left his workplace early to drive himself to the hospital, but swerved and hit a fence en route. He was then transported to a hospital for treatment. Gena called him a "gentle giant."
Fortunato appeared on the second season of Catfish when he came face-to-face with Ashley Sawyer, a girl he had been dating online for seven years, but had never met in person. Although, like so many episodes of the show, neither looked like what the other person was expecting, Sawyer told MTV News that they were "very much in love" and had planned to spend New Year's Eve together in her hometown of Atlanta. "We were definitely moving forward," Sawyer said."If more people were like Mike, everybody would be a little happier in the world."
Catfish's two-hour season finale airs Tuesday at 10/9c on MTV.